Styles of Hatha : Sticks of Fire

Styles of Hatha

At the beginning of the 20th century, a number of inspired and influential teachers of Hatha Yoga emerged in India. They adapted the ancient asanas to the West using different combinations of poses and breathing techniques and emphasizing different aspects of the tradition. In the process, they transformed yoga from the domain of an elite few, to a practical regimen used by millions all over the world. The process continues today as teachers and disciples of teachers develop new combinations of the classic elements of yoga. The diversity of modern styles is given here:

Ananda yoga: focuses on gentle postures designed to move the body's energy to different organs and muscles, and in particular to the brain as a preparation for meditation. Based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, one of its distinguishing features is the affirmations associated with postures. The headquarter of Ananda are at the Ananda World Brotherhood Village situated in Nevada City, California.

Ashtanga yoga: was originated in the 1940's by by K. Pattabhi Jois at his school in Mysore India. Refer to as 'power yoga', ashtanga is a flowing practice that utilizes challenging postures synchronized with breathing techniques. The poses are linked together and taught in set sequences. Each series of poses must be mastered before the student embarks on the next. Ashtanga is a strength-oriented practice, with intense stretching in most of the poses. It produces internal heat and external sweating that detoxifies the body, improves circulation, flexibility and stamina.

Bikram yoga: Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga, worked for five years with Western doctors to develop his own system of 26 classic postures. They are practiced in the exact same order in a room heated to 95-105 degrees. The heat promotes more flexibility, detoxification and realignment of the body. Bikram yoga is rigorous, but each posture in the sequence, is designed to safely stretch and open the body in preparation for the next posture. When he came here in 1972, at the invitation of the Diabetes Association, the common belief was that Western society wouldn't and couldn't do yoga. However, Bikram believed that the US, laden with chronic disease and stress, was the perfect place for yoga. His vision has proved correct and there are now over 500 affiliated Bikram yoga schools.

Integral yoga: brought to the USA in 1969 by Swami Satchidananda, Integral yoga, as the name suggests, aims to integrate the various aspects of the body-mind through a combination of postures, breathing techniques, deep relaxation, and meditation. Function is given preeminence over form. Integral Yoga is taught at Integral Yoga International, headquartered in Buckingham, Virginia, and over forty branches worldwide.

Ishta yoga: integrated Science of Hatha Tantra and Ayurveda, which is a physical and spiritual form of yoga that addresses the individual needs of each student who practices it. Developed by Alan Finger Ishta is a modern distillation of 15 different forms of yoga blended into a versatile mix of postures, meditation, teachings and chanting that can be adapted to the skills and abilities of each student.

Jivamukti yoga: is one of nine internationally recognized styles of Hatha . Developed in 1986 by Sharon Gannon and David Life, its distinct style integrates chanting, asanas, music, meditation and practices of devotion into a vigorous physical practice with a foundation in the ancient mystic philosophies of the East. Jivamukti incorporates these yoga practices into the modern lifestyle, without losing sight of the universal goal of the practices - liberation. It is a blueprint for incorporating the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga into our modern lives and awakens in the practitioner a need to protect the earth, the environment and all the animals and plants that share the planet with us.
Jivamukti features five tenets, which are incorporated into every class:
Scripture - study of the ancient yogic teachings, including Sanskrit chanting.
Bhakti - acknowledgment that God realization is the goal of all yoga practices.
Ahimsa - a non-violent, compassionate lifestyle which emphasizes ethical vegetarianism and animal rights.
Nada Yoga - the development of a sound body and mind through deep listening.
Meditation - connecting to that eternal unchanging reality within.

Iyengar yoga: Founded by B.K.S. Iyengar of Pune, India, this is probably the best known and widely practiced system of hatha yoga today. Iyengar created his own method of yoga grounded in precision of body alignment and coordinated breathing. The postures are moved into slowly and held longer than in most other styles of yoga. Iyengar is also unique for its use of cushions, straps, blankets and blocks to assist in doing the postures, enabling the less flexible, elderly and disabled to participate. Because of its slow pace, attention to detail and use of props, Iyengar yoga is especially appropriate for those recovering from injuries.

Kripalu yoga: Developed by Kripalvananda and his disciple Yogi Amrit Desai, Kripalu is a gentle, introspective practice that urges practitioners to hold poses in order to explore and release emotional and spiritiual conflicts. Kripalu yoga has three stages. In the first stage, postural alignment and coordination of breath and movement are emphasized, and the postures are held for a short duration only. In the second stage, meditation is included into the practice and postures are held for prolonged periods. In the final stage, the practice of postures becomes a spontaneous 'meditation in motion'. The Kripalu Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, hosts almost 12,000 students and attendees each year.

Kungalini yoga:Was brought to the US by a Sikh master, Yoga Bhajan in 1969. Before that, it was a secret, sacred teaching which was passed down only to certain chosen people in India The word 'kundalini' means awareness and its purpose is to awaken the life force which resides at the base of the spine and allow the energy to flow through the body. Kundalini Yoga combines classic postures with breathing, chanting and meditation. Kundalini postures are characterized by movement instead of poses and it is known for its frequent use of Breath of Fire, a breathing exercise where you inhale and exhale rapidly through the nose without pausing, while using the abdomen as a bellows. Bhajan believes that the body has a natural euphoric state that can be reached without the use of any drugs.

Power yoga: essentially is an American version of Ashtanga, which combines stretching, strength training and meditative breathing. The american version introduces two important changes: it has a number of postures that closely resemble calisthenics such as pushups and handstands and it does away with the pauses found in traditional yoga, which combine to make it an intense aerobic workout.

Sivananda yoga: is the creation of the late Swami Vishnudevananda, who established his First Western center in Montreal, in 1959. In the Sivananda centers, Hatha Yoga is taught in its pure traditional form as it has been done for centuries in the Himalayas. This includes a series of 12 postures, breathing, diet, chanting, scriptural study and meditation. Sivananda has trained over 6,000 teachers, and there are numerous Sivananda centers around the world.

Viniyoga: created by T. Krishnamacharya and his son T.K.V. Desikachar, it adapts yoga practices to individual characteristics and needs. As the teacher of well-known Yoga masters B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi, Krishnamacharya can be viewed as the father of the Hatha Yoga renaissance in modern times. Viniyoga works with what is called "sequential process," or vinyasa-krama. The emphasis is not on achieving an external ideal form, but on practicing a posture according to one's individual needs and capacity. The emphasis on precise breathing and the introduction of sound into asana practice are also unique features of viniyoga. Krishnamacharya's development of yoga therapy, a major component of viniyoga, came from his knowledge of India's ancient school of medicine, Ayurveda, which he integrated with yoga practice.


john said... 8:44 PM  

Yoga is a way of life, a conscious act, not a set or series of learning principles. The dexterity, grace, and poise you cultivate, as a matter of course, is the natural outcome of regular practice. You require no major effort. In fact trying hard will turn your practices into a humdrum, painful, even injurious routine and will eventually slow down your progress. Subsequently, and interestingly, the therapeutic effect of Yoga is the direct result of involving the mind totally in inspiring (breathing) the body to awaken. Yoga is probably the only form of physical activity that massages each and every one of the body’s glands and organs. This includes the prostate, a gland that seldom, if ever, gets externally stimulated in one’s whole life.

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